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Apollo was 'neglected for years'

Apollo was 'neglected for years'

The co-owner and chief executive of Nimax Theatres Nica Burns said in an interview last year that the Apollo Theatre needed restoration work.

However, only £2.45 million was made available to the five West End playhouses under the company's control, despite claims from some they had been neglected for years and needed a more substantial revamp.

Work was meant to be funded by a £1 levy on tickets but it is unclear the extent to which this aided efforts to improve structural issues that made the theatre unsafe.

Speaking to Theatres Magazine in 2012, Ms Burns commented: "Before we could start on the improvements, we had to address the damp. Water attacks the building from above and below."

It has now been reported that in an interview with the Times newspaper in 2000 that previous owner Andrew Lloyd-Webber, who sold the Apollo in 2005, was considering knocking it down - such was the building's state of disrepair.

"The Apollo in particular is a shocking place. I suggested that both it and the Lyric [another local theatre] should be knocked down and replaced by top-quality modern theatres," Mr Lloyd-Webber said at the time.

Speaking to Theatres Magazine, Ms Burns commented: "Before we could start on the improvements, we had to address the damp. Water attacks the building from above and below."

More than 700 people were watching a pre-Christmas performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time when parts of the ceiling began to cave in.

Dozens of people were injured, nine seriously and a Met Police investigation has now been launched to establish whether Nimax Theatres is criminally liable for any of the neglect that has been alleged.

Owners of public property like pubs, cinemas and theatres are required by law to ensure their buildings are structurally safe and are not a danger to occupants. If this is found not to be the case, fines or even prison sentences are among possible sanctions.

By Francesca Witney